Researchers are looking at improving the diagnosis and treatment of bowel and rectal neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). There are a number of clinical trials for people to join in the UK. See how you can take part in a clinical trial.
What clinical trials are
Clinical trials aim to find out if a test or treatment is safe or works better than current ones.
Research into diagnosis
Doctors often use radioactive scans such as octreotide scans and PET scans to help diagnose NETs. They can also show whether the tumour has spread to another part of the body.
You usually have an injection of a radioactive substance (a tracer) before the scan. This helps to show up the neuroendocrine tumour cells. Researchers are looking at different types of tracers to see if it can show up NET cells better. One new tracer is called 18F-FET-βAG-TOCA.
Research into the immune system and NETs
Researchers are looking at how the immune system responds to NETs. And at how treatment with chemotherapy and targeted cancer drugs can affect the immune cells inside these tumours.
Immunotherapy uses our immune system to fight cancer. Researchers aim to use the results of these studies to see whether immunotherapy can help people with NETs.
Gene changes and treatment
Doctors would like to improve treatment and outcome for NETs. To do this, they need to understand more about how these tumours develop, and how their growth is controlled. But this has been difficult so far because NETs are rare and it has not always been possible to collect fresh samples of these tumours to study.
Doctors have collected blood, urine and fresh tissue samples from people with a NET. They are studying genes and gene changes, as well as possible gene faults passed down in families. They hope to find features that might help in the future with diagnosing and treating NETs.
Research into treatment
Doctors are looking at new drugs that stop your body from making too many hormones. Researchers think that this will slow down neuroendocrine tumour growth. These drugs are called somatostatin analogues. Somatostatin analogues that doctors are currently looking at include:
- lanreotide autogel
Doctors are looking for new ways to help people with NETs that have spread to another part of the body. Lenvatinib is a targeted cancer drug. It works by blocking certain proteins that help cells to grow blood vessels. All cancer cells need blood vessels to survive and grow. Doctors think that lenvatinib might stop the cancer from growing.
Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT)
PRRT is a type of internal radiotherapy. This means giving radiotherapy from inside the body. PRRT uses a radioactive substance which you have by a drip into a vein. Researchers want to see how well PRRT works for people with bowel NETs.
Researchers are looking into PRRT using the radioactive substances 177Lu-edotreotide and 177Lu-OPSC001.
Find a clinical trial
Our clinical trials database has information about UK clinical trials for NETs including summaries of trial results.